By on November 1, 2018

All-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon

More mainstream brands saw year-over-year rises in sales volume last month than those who endured a sojourn into the red. It will surprise exactly no one to learn those who did earn sales growth largely did so on the backs of trucks, SUVs, and crossovers.

Nowhere was this more apparent than at Genesis, a brand peddling some excellent cars but – for the moment – completely bereft of an offering in America’s hottest segment. Fiat Chrysler, on the other hand, had a particularly strong October thanks to its top-heaviness in each of those markets.

[Edit: updated to include Audi & BMW numbers]

In terms of straight percentages, every brand (save one) that gained volume at FCA did so at a double-digit rate. The only reason Jeep did not is because its volume has grown to a disproportionate size compared to the rest of the company. FCA’s eggs are being increasingly piled into a single, Jeep-shaped basket.

Plenty of digital ink has been spilled about Ford recently, from coverage about a potential tie-up with VW to their incomprehensible decision to deprive Americans of the Ranger Raptor, so let’s spill some more. You’re all more than capable of reading the numbers below, but what they don’t reveal are nuggets gleaned from sidebars on the company’s sales report.

Year-to-date, 30.2 percent of all volume at Ford Motor Company is comprised of fleet sales, up 0.7 percent from 2017. Breaking that down even further, 11.1 percent are rentals, 13 percent are commercial units, and the gubmint picks up the remaining 6.1 percent of volume. Having said all that, the Blue Oval’s average transaction price reached record levels of $36,800 in October, up $1,400 from last year. Thanks, trucks.

Stating the obvious, most customers have shifted their tastes – perhaps permanently – to crossovers and SUVs. Not shown above but broken out in Toyota’s report is that while its business as a whole was up, its car biz is off 11.1 percent, year-to-date. That still represents a volume of roughly 680,000 units. Ford’s car arm moved about 414,000 machines, off 17.4 percent. Draw your own conclusions from those numbers, readers.

Fun fact for fans of weird stats: Nissan sold exactly the same number of Titans this October as last October. Those 4,114 pickups helped the brand to a total of 41,953 Nissan half-tons finding new homes so far this year, a 5.8 percent increase. By the way, the older-than-Methuselah midsize Frontier is up 7.2 percent in 2018, scuppering any chance Nissan will plow big development bucks into an upgraded unit. With the old one selling well, why would they?

Since its introduction, some have wondered whether the Subaru Ascent is cannibalizing sales from its mates in the showroom. It’s too soon to tell for certain, as initial takers might be existing Subaru owners trading in early. The new three-row crossover has sold 22,588 cars so far this year at a company that’s up a total of 25,919 units. That looks good right up until the point one realizes the Crosstrek is up almost 35,000 machines. All other models are down. Hmm.

We’ll have more sales analysis tomorrow and in the days ahead.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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30 Comments on “October 2018 U.S. Auto Sales: Last Month Brought More Treats than Tricks for Most Automakers...”

  • avatar

    I thought Land Rover was struggling? Message to Jaguar drop Sedans make SUVs

    • 0 avatar

      Doing it as fast as they can, product mix for 2019 is 70% SUV with the E-Pace, F-Pace and the newly arrived I-Pace. J-Pace a few years out. Not ordering as many sedans but the F-Type is still strong.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    What will FCA call themselves if the Fiat brand dies in the US?

    Is having the “F” in “FCA” the only reason they’re keeping the brand alive here?

  • avatar

    I read on another site that FCA, Chrysler to US, outsold Ford, retail.

    Drop all the FIAT junk and plow the money into Chrysler, JEEP and RAM. FIAT is a hopeless sinkhole.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I find it interesting that Tesla is selling more cars than Lexus and Lincoln combined. Interpret that as you will, but these sales are making a difference to the highline brands from Germany and Japan. The banks don’t care if don’t have to buy gas, you still have to qualify for the loan on that rig and most of them are pretty spendy, spendy enough that if it were not for Tesla the buyers would most likely be driving a Lexus, MB, Audi, or BMW I do believe. So, in the end you have to credit Elon for disrupting the market and the dealer model all at once.

    • 0 avatar

      +1 on the above. Every person buying a Tesla (even the model 3s are going for around $50K) means one fewer BMW, Audi or MBZ sold. People I know, seem to be buying Tesla Model 3 in lieu of BMW 3 and 5s. Between the Tesla S and the good reception of the newer S class MBZ, no wonder there isn’t enough meat on the bone for Jaguar XJ. (See above for an article on Jaguar’s cratering sales numbers.)
      As an aside, I took my 2016 Hyundai Genesis in for an oil change and waited for it. I saw exactly no customers looking to buy. Additionally a salesperson came up and wanted me to trade my ‘16 for a new ‘18. His main selling point…free service on the ‘18. I said no, paid the $39.95 for the oil change/inspection and told them I’d be back in 6 months.

    • 0 avatar

      The same argument is made with luxury pickups versus German sedans.

  • avatar

    I get really tired constantly reading about the auto market had ditched cars in favor of crossovers, SUVs and trucks – “perhaps permanently”.

    Permanently is an awful long time. And does anyone have the slightest clue what we’ll be driving/buying ten years from now? Other than those of us who will keep the current ride until it completely falls apart and dies in the middle of the street some day, of course.

    I still believe that the rush to write the sedan’s obituary is awfully premature.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s all pretty arbitrary. Did the “cars” from the 30s and 40s have more in common with today’s cars or trucks?

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        My thoughts exactly. It’s taken 60 years, but thankfully we’re moving away from the “longer, lower, wider” mantra started in the late ’50s.

        I learned to drive with the full sized boats in the ’70s. No thanks. Give me even a base CR-V, Rogue etc any day of the week, just based on more comfortable seating position, maneuverability, etc.

  • avatar

    Interesting stats for FCA: Chrysler 300 up 37%, Dodge Challenger up 34% and last but not least: Dodge Caravan up 357%.

    For all the hate FCA gets from many of the B&B, they must be doing something right :-)

  • avatar

    Smart selling one more car than Lamborghini and five more than Rolls Royce is somehow amusing to me. Can’t imagine they will stick with that experiment much longer.

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

    I’m thinking there’s at least a 40 percent chance the local Genesis dealer would flat-out give me the ’18 G80 that I’ve had my eye on, just if I asked nicely…

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve noticed my local CarMax is getting Genesis heavy and even picked up a V8 K900.

      Meanwhile the Albuquerque Genesis dealer lists an inventory of ONE. It is a 2018 G90 5.0 Ultimate listed at $72K.

      • 0 avatar
        Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

        Interestingly, it appears that Larry H. Miller is getting out of the Korean luxury game. Try to search for one in Albuquerque and the Genesis website comes back with, “A new Genesis retailer that carries 2019 models is coming to your area/region. Please sign up to get notified when it open.”

        Can’t imagine why they’d jump ship on the brand…

        • 0 avatar

          Maybe if the G70 had arrived in a timely fashion so that they actually had a $35,000 to $50,000 product to sell…

          Meanwhile CarMax expanded from just Albuquerque to Santa Fe. I can’t really understand why a state of less than 2 million people needs 2 CarMax within less than 1 hour drive of each other.

  • avatar

    Lincoln down 15%. What a joke.

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